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Declare Paperback – 1 Jun 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus; Main edition (1 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848874030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848874039
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Tim Powers is a brilliant writer. Declare's occult subtext for the deeper Cold War is wonderfully original and brilliantly executed --William Gibson

Dazzling - a tour de force, a brillant blend of John Le Carre spy fiction with the otherworldly, packed with historical fact, dazzling flights of imagination, and wonderful suspense --Dean Koontz

Philip K. Dick felt that one day Tim Powers would be one of our greatest fantasy writers. Phil was right --Roger Zelazny

About the Author

Tim Powers is a two-time winner of both the World Fantasy and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Awards and three-time Locus Award recipient. He lives in San Bernardino, California.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tim Powers has written a number of novels on the theme of mystical influences behind the real world, and Declare is no exception. Protagonist Andrew Hale joins the British Secret Intelligence Service during WWII, serving against Germany and then in the infant Cold War, confronting increasingly strange events that culminate in some desperate mission on the slopes of Mount Ararat in 1948, codenamed Declare. Flash forward to 1963, and Hale is reactivated and thrown into another desperate attempt to finish Declare. Powers weaves the two timelines expertly, so we gradually discover some of the truth with the young and naive Hale, while following the older and more cynical man into the heart of the mystery.

Declare carefully takes as many true events as it can, inserting Andrew Hale and the mysterious forces he faces into the unexplained spaces between official accounts. A central figure is Kim Philby, real-life KGB double agent who worked for MI6 for 20 years before exposure. Powers also gives us real-life Soviet spy rings in Paris, machinations in Arabia, and post-war Berlin. He never leans too heavily on his intensive research, and it just flows and merges beautifully. Without Wikipedia you'd never be able to tell what is real and what is imagination. Hale is a character in the tradition of John Le Carre - insecure, frightened, and very human. The book depends totally on the reader engaging with him, and thankfully he is one of Powers' best characters.

Powers has never had the success he deserves, and Declare is a perfect example of why he should, but never will. It could have been a blockbuster-style spy novel with pulp monsters and sold well with a cheesy cover, but instead he crafts a Le Carre tale of tradecraft with enigmatic and subtly terrifying mystical forces.
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Format: Paperback
Don't be confused by the year-dates of the other reviews, or that given on the copyright page: the publisher and Amazon haven't accidentially flipped a 'zero' and a 'one' around the wrong way. This book was first released mass-market in the US in 2001. It has taken until 2010 for its UK release. That is NOT a reflection on the worth of the book (indeed it won several awards and got nominated for a bunch more) but it is a searing indictment of corporate UK publishers. A recent example will suffice: despite some success will her early novels, Scarlett Thomas experienced the full force of the conservatism of UK 'big publishers' who balked at her then new novel, 'The End of Mr. Y'. It took the maverick imprint Canongate to realise the book's potential and to take it and its author's subsequent books into the bestseller charts.

For me the best writers are the ones who mix it up: who wants 'a' horror novel, or 'a' science fiction novel, or 'a' crime novel? Nah, let's just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and see what comes out. And some of the results in recent years have been fantastic, from Neal Stephenson's 'Baroque Cycle' (a HUGE historial fantasy/alternate history grand slam) to Charles Stross's giddy 'Laundry files' (a supernatural detective science fiction series). People like Dan Simmons and Joe R. Lansdale and China Mieville -

- and Tim Powers. This is the guy whose late-'80s novel, 'On Stranger Tides', has been optioned by Disney as the title and story inspiration for the fourth 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie - featuring the fountain of youth and zombies!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is written very much in the Le Carre style of gritty detail, which I find hard work and slightly depressing. It does however convey enormous authenticity, and as a result the added supernatural element is really frightening and horrific. I found I preferred to read during the daytime as I had bad dreams if I read chapters before sleeping!

I was delighted by a robust love story in a spy novel and really enjoyed the excellent recreation of the various milieux. However, I am an English pedant, and I wish Mr Powers had had an English friend proof read the novel for him. To have a quintessential upper class Englishman like Kim Philby say "in back" instead of "at the back", or refer to the "draft" when English people call it "conscription" is slack, and a let down when other things seem so accurate.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Declare was one of those books that made me sweat just reading it. The level of concentration required to keep track of this immersive plotline feels like being back at university studying for my finals. But such a reward lies ahead for those who dedicate themselves to this novel. I cannot stop thinking about this book, even two weeks after reading it. I was fully drawn in, and then in the afterword, where I read that Powers had based the narritive of this story on actual historical events down to the day, I was filled with wonder.
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So I finished this yesterday and I think the fact that it took me nearly a month to read says the most. From things like the Indiana Jones series and Hellboy and the Wolfenstein games I've always liked pulpy stories that involve, a) Nazis and b) the occult. That said, Declare doesn't really fit the bill because although the Occult features majorly Nazis only crop up tangentially due to some of the story being set during World War II. The other thing Declare is not (unless you consider anything with crazy supernatural elements to be so) is pulpy. Powers takes his world building and his commitment to the historical record very seriously. There's no Indy style wise-cracking and certainly no Indy style sense of pace. At times everything moves as slowly as the Parrot glacier on Mount Ararat itself and a lot of the story is delivered in a highly expositionary style. Powers "ironclad" rule is that he can't change things that really happened and does huge amounts of research. Often I felt this research was simply dumped into the text in great undigested chunks of factoids that added nothing to the story but a veneer of authenticity. I've never felt a novel wore its research so heavily before. So a bit of a slog. You keep waiting for things to get weird and occasionly they do pretty well and you keep going in the hope of a really weird Mt Ararat showdown, but on the whole I felt the mixture of spy and weird was too dense a pudding. That said I still would be happy to give another Tim Powers a go at some point.
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